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A Practical Guide to Planning and Permitting a Pipeline

Maranda S. Compton, Michael R. Pincus, Midstream Oil & Gas from the Upstream Perspective

Over the course of the past few years, the United States has experienced—and is still currently experiencing—an unprecedented growth in natural gas and oil production and associated infrastructure development. The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), the nation’s statistical and analytical agency for tracking the production, flow, and use of energy, estimates total domestic dry natural gas production was approximately 27.0 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2016. This is an increase from 23.4 Tcf in 2005, before the shale gas revolution. The prolific production in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions has led this growth. EIA also reports that in November 2017, monthly U.S. crude oil production grew 1.2 million barrels a day year-over-year and reached the highest level of production in U.S. history, surpassing 10 million barrels a day, a level last reached in 1970. U.S. crude oil production has increased significantly over the past 10 years, driven mainly by production from tight rock formations using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. EIA projects that U.S. crude oil production will continue growing in 2018 and 2019. The surge in gas and oil production has driven the construction of new natural gas and oil pipelines to carry the increased supplies to market. Permitting and siting these pipelines—whether by a single federal entity, as is the case for interstate natural gas pipelines, or by states and other federal agencies as is the case for oil, natural gas liquids, and natural gas gathering, intrastate, and distribution pipelines—presents considerable challenges in some cases.